After Earth is the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan and is a slightly strange science fiction story, set over a thousand years in the future, when humanity has abandoned Earth following an environmental disaster. A military ship crashes on Earth, which has evolved to the point where even the air is toxic to humans. The only survivors are a father and son, played by real-life father and son Will and Jaden Smith. Will Smith’s Cypher breaks his leg in the crash, leaving Jaden’s Kitai to travel across the now deadly planet to activate a homing beacon.
Kitai has to suppress his fear to out run an alien creature, but seemingly also suppresses any humanity in the process. Jaden Smith gives a completely wooden performance, making it very hard to care about what happens to him. Will Smith totally lacks the charisma and charm that made him a household name, in a role that sees him play a no shit taking General.
This lack of humanity makes the main story running throughout the film, one of repairing a damaged father and son relationship, rather unbelievable. The relationship is somehow repaired through Will flatly giving his son orders, never trusting him once along the way. While neither actor particularly excels themselves throughout, Jaden feels horribly miscast – seemingly only getting the role because of his father. He has never shown the talent of his dad, yet keeps landing roles.
There are many leaps of logic within the film, from how Will Smith’s character stays so focused with massive blood loss to why a giant bird decides to save Kitai. Also, the ship design is just damn right bizarre, looking more like a cross between wood and bed sheets, making it questionable how they are able to travel through space at all. For some reason humanity has replaced all their weaponry with a staff that can become many tools, against a blind yet ferocious alien race. It feels like if they were to use guns, the soldiers wouldn’t need to be quite so fearless, as they wouldn’t need to sneak up on these deadly creatures, probably ending the war with haste in the process.
As a whole the film is a dull, wooden mess, that should be avoided at all costs and another total misfire from Shyamalan.